Three Taverns Church

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Be The Loving Memory People Never Forget

As I was leaving my chiropractor’s office yesterday the doctor asked me, “So, you’re feeling better?”

“Oh yeah,” I said, “When I came home last night my two youngest kids ran to the door to meet me. We wrestled around on the ground for a few minutes…we had an awesome time.”

Then I paused for maybe half a heartbeat and, starting to tear up, I said, “Not to get all emotional in your office, but I didn’t realize until just now that it’s been almost six weeks since they’ve run to the door to see me. Ever since I got that herniated disc I haven’t been able to play with them, and they kind of just quit being interested in me when I came home. But now Dad is back (no pun intended) and I could see how excited they were to play with me again!”

Oftentimes when things go wrong in our lives, it’s a long, slow decline into pain and suffering. Moments of shock and trauma are thankfully rare; it’s much more common to wake up one day having forgotten how good things used to be. In my story above I had forgotten that my kids and I used to wrestle and laugh together, and I’d only been injured six weeks! I have friends and family who have been hurting a much longer time. Their slide into suffering was so slow that these days they don’t even realize how much they are hurting; they’ve forgotten what “normal” feels like.

How many of us know someone living in an abusive relationship who thinks it’s “normal” to be emotionally or physically abused? How many of us know someone slaving away for an awful boss because he assumes, “That’s the way it is,” or know a homeless woman who thinks she’ll be on the streets forever, for the exact same reason? How many of us know a family member who’s given up the struggle against age and physical illness because the pain has been present for so long?

Do you want to help people remember what “normal” really means, to recognize life when they see it?

Be the loving memory people never forget.

If you know someone in an abusive relationship, be the love that will open her eyes to just how wonderful human companionship is supposed to be!

If you know someone in a job he hates (or someone dying for any job), be the love that helps him re-discover his hopes and dreams, and the purpose he was put here for!

If you know someone in the final stages of life who has given up, be the love that reminds her of all the good things in life, and the hope she can have in the future.

Be the love that becomes someone’s most treasured memory, something they will never forget.

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Shamed By Your Environment?

“How did interactions and observations of behavior in wider environments shame you, wound you, and force you into imprisoning your own ability to feel love?” Mothers, Sons & Lovers, by Michael Gurian

I kissed a boy that lived next door when I was around 10 years old. My dad found out somehow, but he never talked to me about it. One day I just wasn’t allowed to go over there any more. The fact that we never talked about it felt very shameful. At another friend’s house, when I was a little older, I “took advantage” of his younger sister. Even though it wasn’t sex it still felt very “dirty” and wrong. But his parents were both alcoholics and their family was very dysfunctional and had few boundaries. I never should have been in the position to hurt her. I feel like I need to just accept it, though. I covered this ground in Steps 4 and 5.

I also got bullied a LOT in junior high and high school. Being a white kid in Hawai’i didn’t help the fact that I was skinny and wasn’t able to play sports until I was ten for medical reasons.

Which, leaving the bullying for a minute, I now realize a little more just how much my surgery has always bothered me. I couldn’t play with other kids or get good at sports like them. By the time I was allowed to play, they all had four or five years of experience and had formed relationships with each other and with coaches. I feel like a part of me feels like a victim of my surgery, and a part of me resents my parents for going through what ultimately was cosmetic surgery. This series of events also feels like it has contributed to my sense of inadequacy, because while all the other boys played sports through elementary school, junior high, and high school, met girls, and got to participate in that “sporting fraternity”, I was stuck at home reading. I fucking hate that I grew up different than everyone else, that I had to be sheltered for so long, that I missed out on so much in life because of a stupid FUCKING LUMP in my head.

Who might I have been without that lump? How might my life have been different? Would I have had sex in high school? What college would I have gone to? Who would I have married? What would I do for a living? Knowing that it’s “in the past” doesn’t help. I guess I need to feel this anger and let it out, finally. Fuck you, Lump. Who’s kicking ass now?

Back to the bullies…they sucked. They picked me apart and made me feel worthless. The schools couldn’t or wouldn’t help me; neither did my dad. I’ve always resented him that. Thanks, Pop, for letting me live a scared life for six years. Fun times.

Author’s note: After journaling this entry I felt immensely better. If you find that you are struggling with anger and resentment, try journaling. You might be surprised (as I often am) at what comes out on paper and how much better you’ll feel afterwards.

How do you think the environment you grew up in might have shamed you or wounded you? What can you do to acknowledge the hurt of your past and move on?



Mother’s Day Fiasco

On the Friday following Mother’s Day I wrote a post about my reaction to a woman I saw preach the previous Sunday; the title of the post was “Preaching In 5″ Heels?” In the post I discussed the attire of the woman, whether or not her clothes were appropriate, and my struggles as a recovering pornography addict watching a provocatively dressed woman preach. While I noted in my post that I don’t want to be in the fashion-police business, I did argue that church should be a place where Christians try not to create ‘stumbling blocks’ for other believers. I believe the woman I saw preach was inappropriately dressed, I contend that she was naive, intentional, or apathetic in her clothing choices, and I acknowledge that I should have stood up and left that day rather than sit there and struggle with my lust.

If you don’t remember reading my “Preaching in 5″ Heels?” post, don’t worry: I was ‘asked’ to remove the post by a member of the church’s staff shortly after I posted it. It has taken me seven weeks to reach this point, but at the advice of my counselor I now want to write about the events that transpired that day and the days that followed.

As I noted above, I wrote “Preaching In 5″ Heels?” the Friday after Mother’s Day. The service was on my mind all week and I was wrestling with my feelings on the subject. The more I thought about it the more convinced I became that I needed to share my perspective on immodesty in church, particularly with regard to women who are given the opportunity to preach. Not once did I name the parties involved, the name of the church I attended that day, or anything else that would publicly call out the church or its staff. Yet a member of the church who is a friend of mine on Facebook read this blog, put two and two together, and determined that I was writing about his church.

Some time after 10pm Friday night while I was watching a movie with my wife, my cell phone rang: It was a member of the church’s staff. He said he was “shocked” at my post and though he couldn’t force me to take the post down, that is what he wanted me to do. It was late, I was tired, I’d had a few beers…and suddenly I found myself in a confrontation I was wholly unprepared for. In my state of confusion I agreed to take the post down immediately. This person told me we would talk on Sunday.

Let me pause the story for a moment to make a few comments:

  • I am an American citizen, and I believe our nation’s freedom of speech is one of our most precious and protected rights. It is completely inappropriate for one person to censor another in this manner
  • It is inappropriate to use personal relationships to manipulate others for purposes of ‘protecting’ your church, particularly when you are on the paid staff of that church
  • It is inappropriate to call someone at home because you dislike something written in a private blog. If you disagree with the content of a blog, stop reading it or comment on the blog itself

Needless to say, Saturday was a  nervous day for me: I had never been involved in a situation like this before and I had no idea what to expect come Sunday. However, I was eager to sit down and ‘clear the air’.

We found each other Sunday morning and sat down to talk. Or at least I sat down to talk; he sat down enraged. His face and voice were carefully controlled and masked, but the anger beneath his calm veneer was so palpable that I was genuinely scared. The talk that ensued was angry, hurtful, and threatening. Some of the highlights from the conversation include:

  • “I’ll haul you in front of the Elder Board if you ever do anything like this again.”
  • “You are writing out of your sickness, I need you to see that!”
  • “Everything we do at this church is for a redemptive purpose, including this conversation.”
  • “You cannot write in your blog that you wanted to go in the bathroom and masturbate after seeing (the woman) preach!”

With regard to any masturbatory intentions, I had not said anywhere in my post that I wanted to act out that day; there is a big difference between being ‘triggered’ by someone and acting out. With regard to that being a ‘redemptive’ conversation, it was anything but redemptive; condemning would have been a better word. With regard to writing out of my sickness, being called ‘sick’ by a church staff member shows that person to be insensitive, unbiblical, unprofessional, and abusive of his authority.

I have told this story to friends, family, my mentor, and my counselor. When people hear about his threat to “haul” me in front of the Elder Board, their advice is the same: Do it. Call his bluff. Do it, you did nothing wrong. Demand to take this situation to the Elder Board. He abused his authority, hurt you deeply, and behaved angrily, irrationally, and unprofessionally. Go to the Board.

I regret I did not stand my ground that Friday night, and I regret I did not stand up for myself that Sunday morning but instead took his abuse as an indication of my own guilt and shame.